- Total 233
This just needs dialogue, lyrics, and original music (presumably folk). It’s based on a bit of history plus plenty of invention.
Act 1, Scene 1: Silver King Mine, Utah (1914)
Striking miners sing of their suffering and despair. They are buoyed to see Joe Hill, a Swedish immigrant and union organizer, arrive. He leads them in a chorus of his song, “There is Power in the Union,” which raises their spirits. Hilda Erickson, age 20, a fellow Swede, approaches him and expresses her admiration for his courage.
Act 1, Scene 2: the same
Joe pulls fellow workers Sven Andersson and John G. Morrison aside to discuss what to do when hired guns come to break the strike. Morrison suggests they blow up the only bridge to the mine so that the goons can’t bring their heavy weapons with them. Andersson says he knows where they can steal some dynamite.
Act 1, Scene 3: Hilda’s family home, a humble homestead near Park City.
Joe arrives with flowers and asks Hilda out on a date the next weekend. After he leaves, she sings ambivalently. Maybe Joe would come to love her in time, but he seems to love the movement more–and death more than all.
Act 1: Scene 4: The sheriff’s office
The local sheriff meets with Morrison, who turns out to be a former police officer and now an undercover deputy. Morrison tells him that the Wobblies are planning acts of terror using dynamite. The sheriff orders Morrison to let them steal the explosives and then arrest them on the spot. Morrison sings of his anger that communist foreigners would try to subvert his community.
Act 2: Scene 1: Hilda’s home
Otto Appelquist, another Swedish immigrant, knocks on Hilda’s door, also bearing flowers. He sings of the life they could have together as his store thrives in the growing American West, the land of dreams. This song turns into a duet, with Hilda confessing the appeal of his vision even as she also admires Joe. She agrees to go on a date with Otto.
Act 2: Scene 2: A warehouse by night
Andersson and Morrison steal dynamite. Once Andersson has it in his hands, Morrison draws a pistol and tells him he’s under arrest. Andersson draws and fires, killing Morrison. Standing over the dead body, Andersson sings of his fear and announces that he will flee town immediately.
Act 2: Scene 3: Outside Hilda’s home, the same night.
Appelquist drops Hilda off at her door and sings of his love for her as he walks away. Joe Hill suddenly appears and demands that Appelquist leave Hilda alone. They argue heatedly. Joe picks up a shovel and brandishes it threateningly. Appelquist draws a pistol and shoots Joe in the chest; Joe staggers away.
Act 2: Scene 4: The same
Appelquist returns to Hilda and confesses in shame what he has done. She sings of her frustration with all violent, possessive men. She hopes that Joe survives and chooses not to turn Otto into the police.
Act 2: Scene 4: The sheriff’s office
The sheriff receives word by telephone that his deputy, John Morrison, has been killed. The phone rings again to let him know that the anarchist Joe Hill has staggered into a doctor’s office with a bullet wound to his lungs. He sings of his rage at Hill and expresses bitter satisfaction that the radical will now die for murder.
Act 3: Scene 1: The Utah Territorial Penitentiary, Salt Lake City
Orrin Hilton, a slick city lawyer, urges Joe to tell the jury who really shot him. Joe says he would never snitch, and besides, he doesn’t want to take the stand in his own trial. He sings that he will serve the revolution best as a martyr. What is one man’s life worth when millions starve with rags on their backs?
Act 3: Scene 2: A field outside of town
Otto admits that he is no hero, but he sings eloquent memories of the old country, Sweden, in summertime. Can’t they ever enjoy wild strawberries again? Meanwhile, Hilda sings a lament for Joe and commits to living a decent life with Otto.
Act 3: Scene 3: The Utah Territorial Penitentiary
Joe reads his last letter to “Big Bill” Haywood (“Don’t mourn–organize”) and sings his final testament: “My will is easy to decide / For there is nothing to divide. …” Men come and take him to be shot. As the commander counts, “Ready, aim …” Hill shouts, “Fire — go on and fire!” A ghostly chorus of workers sings Hill’s “The Preacher and the Slave” while Hilda and Otto watch, hand-in-hand.